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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Poll: GOP brand awful among Hispanics but Rubio a 'ray of hope'



Former Sen. Norm Coleman cut to the obvious at the beginning of a Hispanic polling forum this morning in Washington. "The Republican brand among the Hispanic Latino community is not a good brand, is in terrible disrepair and is in need of a substantial uplift. It needs a substantial resuscitation. The patient's not dead but is on life support."

But Coleman, one of the founders of the Hispanic Leadership Network, said there is room for hope and pointed to Florida's Marco Rubio as evidence. A Resurgent Republic poll released Wednesday shows Rubio with a 49/37 percent favorable-unfavorable rating in Florida, which is higher than the overall support for the GOP. Rubio still lags behind President Obama, who has a 64-34 favorable-unfavorable rating in Florida. 

"There are rays of hope," said pollster Whit Ayres, mentioning also Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez.

Coleman repeatedly used the word "respect" to press how Republicans need to treat Hispanics. In Florida, 51 percent of Hispanics said the GOP does not respect their values and concerns. It was worse in Colorado, with 63 percent and New Mexico with 54 percent and Nevada with 59 percent.

One was to improve that standing, Coleman argued, is with immigration policy. The poll showed overwhelming support (83 percent in Florida) for allowing undocumented immigrants who have been here for years to earn legal status if they pay a find, have a job and learn English.

The poll did not look at support for a path to citizenship, which is what a growing number of Republicans and Democrats want.

"When we're talking about immigration, it is not a defensible position to say we can go out and use harsh rhetoric to rip illegal immigrants and legal Hispanic immigrants will be fine with it. You're talking about members of their family, people they know, their neighbors. it's a personal issue and the tone is absolutely critical. Otherwise, why would Barack Obama have done so well among Puerto Ricans in the I-4 corridor in Florida? They're all American citizens ... But they took some of the language personally. They saw it as an offense to them and people like them."

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:10pm]


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